30 May 2014 | secondtake
So sincere and well acted it rises above a good but uneven script...see it
Last Love (2013)
This is such a poignant and well meant movie it's hard to not like it and its intentions. What it fails to do is "rise above." It is a heartfelt look at finding meaning at the end—and the beginning—of life in Paris, and yet it remains somewhat prosaic, missing a beat now and then. I loved it at times, but only very much liked it by the end.
I love without reservation "Mostly Martha," the most successful movie by the director, Sandra Nettlebeck. In that one, she makes her understanding of being German, and its limitations, an important part of the movie. Here we are in France, in a plot based on a French novel, with a British actor playing an American and a young French woman. Michael Caine is nor ordinary actor and he's actually wonderful here. And indeed the young woman who plays his muse, in a way (the woman who creates the "crack" in his world that is the key to the movie), is also very good, if common (played by Clemence Poesy—she appears in a couple Harry Potter movies).
What succeeds beyond these very good performances is the idea of a man near his last days in Paris, after the death of his wife, and a young woman who befriends him out of some unexplained loneliness. What they form is an odd but believable friendship. Their family and other friends do not understand or approve, but it makes sense to them, even when it's awkward. It's a kind of brave and interesting subject.
What it lacks is exactly the right feel and touch, the sense of trueness to spirit and character that people might actually have. There are moments that are just great, a rebellion or a quiet look, and then there are moments where the characters act, well, out of character. A hair.
If this seems like picking on nuances you have to understand that the movie is about such emotional and psychological nuances. It sets its own bar high, and so suffers from that. Sometimes.
See it? Yes. I liked it wholly. But see also "Mostly Martha" for a similar sense of finding what matters, of pan-European feelings, of crossing normal boundaries with romantic flair.